You might not be a professional athlete, but if you train hard and play hard in your spare time you could wind up with a sports-related injury. Though sports injuries from full-contact sports like football grab headlines, even zero-contact sports like golf or tennis aren’t without their risks. Here’s what you should look out for.
Watch Your Form
If you aren’t working with a coach or trainer, it can be easy to fall into habits that might improve your score but are harming your health. It’s worthwhile to go back to basics and check that you’re practicing correct form, whether you’re lifting at the gym or hitting the back nine.
Warm Up and Cool Down
We know, it’s finally the weekend and you’ve got time to get out on the field. Still, it’s important to stretch and warm up before you get going. The longer you go in between playing your sport, the more important it is to be sure that your body is ready for that exertion. Cooling down afterward is important too—you don’t want to right from intense exercise to sitting down. You don’t need an elaborate routine; taking time to walk around—which keeps you in motion but at a relaxed level — can be enough.
Listen to Your Body
If you are feeling aches and pains, it may be time to back off. Too often there can be a kind of domino effect with sports-related injuries. If you’ve injured one muscle or you’re sore in one spot, you consciously or subconsciously begin to rely too much on a different part of your body to relieve that initial pain. This can cause injury to the new muscles from overuse, can have a ripple effect of creating pain in other parts of your body due to your altered form, or can lead to re-injury when you go back to normal and the muscle you’ve avoided using has weakened. Though you might not want to take a break, giving yourself a rest now is better than being sidelined for weeks or months with a more extensive injury.
Ease In After Time Off
If you’ve taken time off from your activity — even if you just went on vacation for a week — it’s important to give your body time to get back into the swing of things. Though you won’t have completely deconditioned, if you expect to jump right back in you’re more likely to risk an injury from overexertion or fatigue.
See a Specialist
Athletes are more prone to injuries of the knees, ankles, feet, shins, and calves than non-athletes. But depending on the sport, other parts of your body may be affected, too. Baseball players are more likely to have injuries in the arms, wrists, and shoulders, while rock climbers may get injuries to the fingers and hands. If you do end up facing a sports-related injury, it’s important that you seek out qualified care from providers who are skilled in sports medicine. You want to work with people who understand not just the nature of your problem, but also the nature of your sport. A healthcare provider with less experience with sports medicine may offer a solution that heals your body but hinders your ability to play. Do you need help getting back in the game? Call the Sports Medicine Clinic at the Spine Institute Northwest at 253-313-1801.